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July 27, 2012 | By Jon Bardin, Los Angeles Times
For the first time, scientists have changed a monkey's behavior with a simple flash of blue light. Well, that and a fancy cellular technique called “optogenetics.” The new research clears an important hurdle on the path toward using the light-based approach to treat human neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and depression. Optogenetics takes advantage of a class of proteins called channelrhodopsins. The proteins naturally reside in the outer walls of some algae, and have a peculiar property: They are activated by light.
August 28, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Scientists have caught the first images of a boa constrictor consuming a 9-pound howler monkey, and they are gruesome. In the gallery above, you will see the boa constrictor ingesting the monkey head-first, bit by bit.  The images accompany a study describing a play by play of the snake attack published in the journal Primates by Julio Cesar Bicca-Marques of Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul and his student  ...
July 7, 2012 | By Deborah Netburn
Bipedal robots, in general, are a pretty stilted bunch. Their movements are overarticulated, they wobble, they topple, and when faced with an obstacle -- even one as slight as a slope change -- they often can't overcome it. But that may soon change. This week, researchers from the Univeristy of Arizona published a paper in the Journal of Neural Engineering that describes the development of a new type of robot legs that mimic the neuromuscular architecture of human walking.
September 4, 2013 | By Mary MacVean
Screaming at your teenagers to discipline them can make their behavior worse - even if you otherwise have a warm family relationship, researchers say. The effects were comparable to those in studies that focused on physical punishments, the researchers said. “From that we can infer that these results will last the same way that the effects of physical discipline do,” the lead researcher, Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology in education at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement.
May 7, 2010 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Famed physicist Stephen Hawking set off chatter in the scientific community in late April when he posited the existence of intelligent aliens on his new TV series, "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking" —adding that it would be best for human beings to avoid contact with them. Hawking speculated that such aliens would likely be nomads, living in ships after sucking their own planet dry of resources, and hopping from one interstellar refueling station to the next. Earth, he said, shouldn't do anything to encourage their visit.
February 1, 2013 | By Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times
Scientists have infused "life" into inanimate chemical compounds by flashing a blue-violet light that prompted them to assemble themselves into a crystal. The feat, described in a study published online Thursday by the journal Science, marks an important step toward creating "active" materials that can repair themselves, such as a smartphone screen that fixes its own cracks or a Kevlar vest that fills a hole made by a bullet, experts said. Showing that microscopic particles can be made to come together or break apart on their own "opens a new area for design and production of novel and moving structures," wrote the study authors, a team of physicists and chemists from New York University and Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
October 17, 2009 | John Johnson Jr.
Is 2012 the end of the world? If you scan the Internet or believe the marketing campaign behind the movie "2012," scheduled for release in November, you might be forgiven for thinking so. Dozens of books and fake science websites are prophesying the arrival of doomsday that year, by means of a rogue planet colliding with the Earth or some other cataclysmic event. Normally, scientists regard Internet hysteria with nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head. But a few scientists have become so concerned at the level of fear they are seeing that they decided not to remain on the sidelines this time.
October 10, 1997
Regarding "World Views on Global Warming Are Worlds Apart," Oct. 5: I applaud The Times for coverage of the debate over global climate change. In the attempt to portray the scope of the debate and the complexity of the scientific issues involved, however, your story curiously fails to report the broad scientific consensus on the subject. The 1995 report that is fleetingly mentioned was compiled by the world's preeminent climate scientists, and concluded that there is a discernible impact of human activities on climate.
September 5, 2013 | By Becca Clemmons
WASHINGTON -- The Smithsonian National Zoo announced Thursday that the giant panda cub born there two weeks ago is a girl, is very chatty and "has a fat little belly. " Scientists confirmed the sex of the cub, which was born to Mei Xiang (pronounced may-SHONG) on Aug. 23, according to a news release. DNA tests also showed that the zoo's panda Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN) is the father of the cub. Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated twice in late March, with sperm from Tian Tian and from a panda named Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo, after unsuccessful natural breeding attempts with Tian Tian.
January 28, 2013 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
A team of storm-chasing scientists sampling rarefied air has found a world of bacteria and fungi floating about 30,000 feet above Earth. The findings, detailed Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that microbes have the potential to affect the weather. Scientists have long studied airborne bacteria, but they typically do so from the ground, often trekking to mountain peaks to examine microbes in fresh snow. Beyond that, they don't know much about the number and diversity of floating microbes, said study coauthor Athanasios Nenes, an atmospheric scientist at Georgia Tech.
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